The Autobiography of a Journalist, Volume II
William James Stillman

Part 3 out of 5

faith of cures, and it is said that many miracles take place every

In this hermitage Mirko, the father of the Prince, in company with
thirty-two of his voivodes, was once besieged by a large body of
Turks, but repelled all attacks for nineteen days, with the loss of
only two men, killed by shots which passed through the window. One of
the garrison descended by a rope to bury one of the dead, and, this
accomplished, made his way by night through the Turkish army and
carried the news of the siege to Danilo, then the reigning prince, who
raised an army and dispersed the Turkish forces. During the siege,
two parties of Mussulmans, mistaking each other for relief parties of
Christians, attacked each other with great slaughter, an event which
was considered to be the effect of the intervention of St. Basil.

The hegumenos strongly opposed my attempt to penetrate to Niksich,
assuring me that the plain was so infested by bands of Turks that it
was to the last degree unsafe to travel on the road, the truth being
that the city was beleaguered by Montenegrin bands, a fact which he
desired to conceal. This, I was convinced, was the real reason of
his opposition; but, to strengthen his argument, the rain, which had
lifted for the one day of the journey from Danilograd, changed into
snow in the mountains, and made the attempt impossible. We waited
several days at the convent, and, as the rain and snow were insistent,
and Niksich too difficult of access, I decided to turn the other way
and go to Scutari by land. Returning to Danilograd, I learned that
this was practically impossible, the road beyond Podgoritza being
not only dangerous for persons, but impracticable for beasts, as the
country was under water. No Montenegrin would venture into the Turkish
territory with the certainty of incurring decapitation,--if not in my
company, at any rate on his return without me; so, on consultation
with the sirdar in command at Danilograd, I sent back to Cettinje the
horses we had come with, and hired those of a rayah of Podgoritza who
had come to market at Danilograd, intending to go to Podgoritza, where
we should hire other horses to Plamnitza, on the lake shore, whence we
could proceed by water to Scutari. I telegraphed the Prince to send
his steam launch to meet me at Plamnitza; and, as my interpreter, the
Montenegrin student, determined to run the risks of decapitation
and go with me, I imposed on him a European costume, took away his
revolver as a safeguard against dangerous excitement, put him under
severe charge not to show that he understood the Serb language, and
started in a pouring rain.

The road to Spuz was unique. Now that Montenegro has entered into
possession of the region, there is a carriage road, but the ancient
one was a pavement of the days of Dushan which now ran along the top
of a ridge like a hog-back in the middle of the road, on each side of
which the track had been worn down by travel until the original road
was as high as the backs of our horses above the actual track each
side of it. At the gate of Spuz we were stopped and our passports were
demanded. Mine had been visaed at Ragusa for Mostar, and Gosdanovich
had the Russian passport, which is freely accorded to all
Montenegrins. The sentinel could read neither, and sent them to the
konak with a demand for instructions. Meanwhile the guard turned out
to laugh at us sitting on our market horses in the pouring rain, our
saddles being only blankets fastened on the pack saddles, on which we
were perched high, the rain pouring off from every extremity of our
costumes. The messenger brought word to send us to the police office,
and there we went.

A binbashi, grave, polite, and curious, invited us to be seated and
ordered coffee. He could speak only Turkish, and I tried English,
French, and Italian in vain, when a bright Albanian lieutenant
standing by made a remark in Romaic, and for the needs of the case
I caught on. He knew much less Romaic than I, but I could make him
understand that I was the correspondent of an English journal going
to Scutari, etc., etc. Gosdanovich played his part well, and was as
stolid as an ox, though the conversation, which he understood, between
the Mussulman Serbs present was not at all cheering. "Bah!" said one
of the secretaries who sat writing on the mat beside the bimbashi, "I
can kill twenty such men as that with a stick, and should like to do
it--such rubbish as they are--I should like to send them all to the
devil." "So should I," replied the other. Then one of them suggested
that, though I was evidently a stranger, he felt sure he had seen
Gosdanovich in Cettinje. "Impossible!" replied the other; "no
Montenegrin would dare to come here now." Finally came the doctor, an
Italian, and we had an excursion into general politics, after which
another coffee and cigarette, and then, with the visa of the bimbashi,
we were permitted to move on to Podgoritza.

We had no further adventure on the road, and early in the afternoon
arrived at Podgoritza, an ancient Servian city, much dilapidated and
very picturesque, taking lodgings at an inn kept by a Christian, a
rather creditable establishment but absolutely empty of guests. We
waited half an hour for the food and fire I ordered (for we were wet
and fasting), when my guide returned and said that there were no
lodgings there, but that the chief of police would provide us, and
that we were to accompany him to the police office. There we were
allowed to dry ourselves over a huge brazier full of glowing coals,
while the zapties cleaned out the adjoining room, a closet about ten
by fourteen feet, in which the dust of years lay accumulated and to
all appearance undisturbed. This was simply a cell in the police
prison, and there we ate what the _miralai_ saw fit to order for
us. Our passports were again examined and discussed, and we were
reëxamined as to our whence and whither and wherefore by the aid of
two or three Catholic Albanians of the vicinity, who did what they
could to find out if we had any secret business, professing to
be themselves the victims of the oppression of the Turks, and
sympathizing with us. They did not draw me, however, and I professed
no anxiety as to my treatment.

The miralai finally gave over his search for hostile motive in our
visit, and we discussed the programme for the morrow. I found that
there was a healthy fear of the Prince of Montenegro, for, when I
told him that the Prince's little steamer would be waiting for me at
Plamnitza the next day at noon, the whole circle broke out in wonder
if it could be true that the Prince took so much interest in us, for
if so, they must be prudent. We had the interesting advantage in that
Gosdanovich understood all that they said as they talked Serb to each
other, for they were a mixed company, and mostly of that race, and
they supposed that he was a Russian and I an Englishman, and that both
of us were ignorant of their language. If, they finally agreed, the
Prince of Montenegro would send his steamer for me, I must be a person
of greater distinction than they thought me, and they must be careful.
So the miralai called the chief of the zapties, and in our presence
gave him his charge, viz., to escort us to Plamnitza, leaving by early
light, and, if the steamer did not come for us, to bring us back to
the prison he took us from, and to kill us on the spot if we attempted
to escape. And so to sleep, as far as the crowing of many cocks
outside and the activity of multitudinous fleas within would permit;
and to make sure of us, we were locked in--fairly at last in a Turkish

The morning broke with the rain pouring in torrents. I had tried to
buy a pair of shoes before going to sleep, but they brought me a pair
for a boy of twelve and assured me that there were no others in the
town, and those I had come with were in tatters which were hardly to
be kept on my feet. The mud was indescribable,--the entire country
flooded, and all the bridges across a river we must pass carried away,
except one over a narrow gorge where the rocks approached so closely
that a couple of logs reached from side to side, and over these the
horses must be led. To say that I was at ease on this trip would be
exaggeration, the more as the zaptie-bimbashi talked freely to his
subordinate about us, and vented his rage at being obliged to make
such a journey for two beastly infidels, to whom the only grateful
service he could render was decapitation. However, we reached the
lake, to find the steamer waiting, tied to the top of one of the
largest oaks a half mile from the actual shore, for the country was so
inundated that we floated over entire villages as we boated out to
it. I delighted the heart of the bimbashi by a baksheesh of half a
napoleon, which so astonished him that he hardly knew how to express
himself, after all his bitter words and unkind intentions. I was later
convinced that if the Turkish authorities had known who I was,--their
old enemy in Crete,--we should not have come out alive from
Podgoritza. In fact, when Danish Effendi at Ragusa heard that I had
been put in prison in Albania he exclaimed, "If I had been there it is
not only a night in prison he would have had, but a file of soldiers
at daylight."

Our steamer had come, however, not to carry me to Scutari, but, and
perhaps fortunately, to take me back to Rieka, whence I had to go to
Cettinje to get a refit, for I was ragged, bootless as my errand to
Scutari, and draggled with mud from head to foot; notwithstanding
which, as soon as the Prince had learned of my arrival, though in the
midst of a diplomatic dinner, he sent for me to come to the palace,
and made me sit down with the company as I was and tell my story. I
had to wait a few days for the voyage to Scutari, profiting by the
occasion of the return of some engineers and the French consul at that
place. We found the town flooded, a fisherman by the side of one of
the streets showing us a fine string of fish which he had caught in
the roadside ditch. Decay, neglect, and utter demoralization were
written large on the general aspect of the capital of one of the most
important of the provinces of the Turkish Empire in Europe, i.e.
important to Turkey. The magnificent country around Scutari for miles
on miles square--most fertile ground, producing, beside wheat, the
finest tobacco known for cigarettes generally sold as of Cavalla (and
how many nervous hours I have soothed with it during these campaigns),
and enormous crops of maize--lies a large part of the time every year
under water, as I had found it, for the sole reason that the Drin,
which ought to empty into the sea below the Boyana (the outlet of the
Lake of Scutari, the Moratcha, etc.), has built a bar by its floods
and abandoned its proper course, emptying into the lake a flood which
the Boyana is incapable of managing.

The fortress was a relic of Dushan, little mended by the Turk, and had
been three times struck by lightning, the magazine each time exploding
(once while I was in Montenegro), only because the Turkish government,
in putting up the lightning-rod and finding the supply of rod short,
had pieced it out with telegraph wire. The body of the rod had
fulfilled its destiny in attracting the lightning, while the telegraph
wire, not being able to carry the load brought to it, had discharged
it into the magazine. And, when I saw it, the wire was still inviting
another disaster. I found in Eshref Pasha a most interesting and
amiable personage, out of his place completely in the management of a
turbulent and really hostile Christian population, with whom his very
best qualities were a disqualification. Eshref was a poet, a dreamer,
and, I was told, the second man of letters in the empire. He
laughingly asked me if I had been at Podgoritza, and I as
good-humoredly replied that I had not come to complain of my treatment
there, but to pay my compliments to a fellow man of letters. His
broad, good-natured face lighted up with pleasure, and, dropping
politics and fighting, we talked poetry and letters. Secretaries and
messengers were coming and going with papers to be signed, or orders
to be given, and we could talk only by interludes. I remarked that he
must have little time for letters in all this complication of cares,
and he replied that "poetry was his refuge in the night when he was
unable to sleep; he had no other time." I tried to get a sample of
his verse, and he recited me one, of which I could judge only by
the sound, which was very musical; but to my urging for a copy for
publication in England he objected that translators were not good for
the reputation of a poet, which we all know. I assured him of the
entire competence of literary London to render him the completest
justice, and he finally yielded in the spirit to my solicitations, but
put them to the rout in the letter; for, though he promised the script
for the next morning, it never came. It is curious that Eshref fell
through his good faith, for when, a few months later, the Porte issued
an irade asking for indication of the reforms needed in the provinces,
he replied by calling the population to formulate their wants, which
they did, asking for the reopening of the Drin so as to facilitate the
draining of the Lake of Scutari, the making of roads and a railway
from Scutari to Antivari on the seacoast. The Porte, unaccustomed to
be taken at its word, recalled the poet, who shared the fate of his
great predecessor Ovid.



The splendid victory of Muratovizza led to the recall of our old
enemy Shefket Pasha, who was sent to Bulgaria and replaced in the
Herzegovina by a more competent and humane man, an old friend of
Cretan days, Raouf Pasha, one of the most competent and liberal
Circassian officers in the service of the Sultan. Of the operations
which followed I have no direct cognizance, and I am not writing the
history of the war, except as it mingles with my own experiences.
The lull that followed the change of command left me time to study
Montenegro and its people, and I made many friends. The battle at
Muratovizza had developed a quarrel between Socica, who commanded
there with a most distinguished ability, and old Peko Pavlovich, who
had refused his coöperation in the battle, to the great diminution
of the consequences of the victory. Peko had now come to follow
the suggestions of the Russian consulate at Ragusa, from which his
fortunate rival would accept no indications. The Russian Slavonic
committees had begun to work, and their contributions and influence,
more than the direct action of their government, gradually brought the
whole movement under Russian influence. I noticed here again what
had happened in Crete, that the Russian agents, profiting by the
irresponsibility which must always be the accompaniment of a despotic
government so extensive as that of Russia, acted without orders and on
their own inspiration, sometimes with disastrous results. The personal
rivalry between Derché and his Russian colleague in the beginnings of
the Cretan troubles had, I have no doubt, a much greater influence
on the event of all the negotiations than any desire of the Russian
government to provoke an insurrection, and so here the feuds that
arose between the agents of the Slavonic committees and the consulate
at Ragusa no doubt refracted the intentions of the authorities at St.
Petersburg more than was suspected.

There is no doubt that Jonine, on his own responsibility and in
opposition to the wishes of the Czar, did what he could to stimulate
the movement in Herzegovina, and that this was the tendency of all the
Russian agents in the Balkans. Of this I had many opportunities of
assuring myself, and, as I sympathized in that feeling, I had no
difficulty in finding it where it existed. Those agents systematically
provoked hostility to Turkey, which was natural and consistent with
the good of the people, for the Turkish abuses are incurable and
always merit rebellion, but also against Austria, which was unjust
and aggravated the trouble of the rayahs needlessly. The Slavonic
committees in Russia, too, went far beyond the desire of the
government, and there were continual rivalries between them and the
consular agents, the latter feeling obliged to outbid the committees
to keep their influence. They had, generally, the mania of activity
and zeal, and commonly went beyond their orders, trusting that if the
luck followed them they would be approved, and if it deserted them
they would find protection in the surroundings of the throne, as they
generally did, activity in the Slavonic cause covering many sins
against discipline. During the lull after the defeat of Servia
(to anticipate a little the course of my narrative), I made the
acquaintance of the Russian General Tcherniaieff at an English
watering-place. We became great friends, for personally I have always
liked the Russians, and he told me with no little glee how he
had outwitted the Czar, who, learning that he intended to go to
Herzegovina to fight, called him and made him swear that he would not
go to "fight with those brigands, the Herzegovinians." He swore, and
then went, evading the surveillance of the police and with a false
passport, to Belgrade, where he gave himself to inciting the Servians
to war, and, when Servia declared war the following spring, he
commanded the army. So he never came to Herzegovina or to Montenegro,
and he was personally hostile to the Prince, as I found most Russian
officers to be. But he assured me that the Czar was bitterly opposed
to the movement, and that if it had been suspected that he was going
to the Balkans he would have been arrested. The prudence of the Czar
is always in danger of being nullified by the imprudence of his

The pressure of the Turkish government on Montenegro became severe,
and the Prince, in the failure of Servia to respond to the Montenegrin
proposals to fight it out, was unwilling to take the responsibility of
a war. But the Sultan inclined to war so strongly that Raouf Pasha,
who advised him that his army was not prepared for it, was recalled,
partly on account of that advice, and partly because he declared that
the insurrection was to a great extent justified by the bad government
of Bosnia, and was replaced by Achmet Mukhtar, later the Ghazi, who
came breathing flames and extermination. The bands of Montenegrins
were ordered to leave the frontier of the principality, and came down
to the vicinity of Ragusa; and as the interest at Cettinje diminished
I followed the war. The winter set in with great and unremembered
rigor, the refugees suffered the greatest misery, and many of the
Turkish troops in the high mountain country died of exposure. I saw
deserters at Ragusa who declared that there would be very general
desertion were it not that the troops were assured, and believed,
that, if they deserted, the Austrian authorities would certainly send
them back to their regiments.

Before this the "Times" had come to the conclusion that the movement
had come to stay awhile, and I was informed that I should be
henceforward placed in the position of its special correspondent. As
I had thoroughly mastered the field and enjoyed the confidence and
friendship of the Prince, I had, as long as the war lasted, no rival
on the English press. The suffering amongst the families of the
Herzegovinians, exiled almost _en masse_ into Dalmatia and Montenegro,
was very great; but the influence of the letters which appeared in the
"Times" produced a wide and happy charitable movement, and I received
at Ragusa supplies of money and clothing, which made the wretched
Christians bless England continually. I had a sharp attack of
bronchitis from the absolute impossibility of finding quarters where I
could do my work in a tolerable comfort; for the usual mildness of the
climate of Dalmatia leaves every house unprovided for the cold,
which that winter was unprecedentedly severe. I used to sit at
my writing-table wrapped in all the blankets I could keep on me.
Fireplaces seemed to be unknown.

On the Greek Christmas (January 6) I met at the house of Colonel
Monteverde, the agent of the Russian committees, a number of the
insurgent chiefs who had come in for a consultation, the forces of the
insurrection having separated into two general commands in consequence
of the quarrel between Peko and Socica. Socica remained in supreme
command in the mountainous Piva district, now buried under the snow,
and Peko took the direction in the lower country, and established
himself at the old camp at Grebci, driving Ljubibratich and his
Herzegovinians out of the field. Peko had then a force of about
1500 men, and Mukhtar did not attempt an attack, but, having made a
military promenade through the lower Herzegovina, went back to Mostar
and into comfortable winter quarters. Peko took position astride the
road from Ragusa to Trebinje, and held the latter place effectually
blockaded. A provision train was about to leave Ragusa, and a force of
five battalions of Turkish regulars, with 400 irregulars and six guns,
was sent from Trebinje as escort. A force of two companies was posted
on two hills commanding the road about midway, and, though Peko had
decided to wait for the train, he, being a natural strategist, saw
that this force must be disposed of to give him a clear field. He
accordingly attacked the main body and drove it back to Trebinje with
a loss of 250 men (counted by the noses brought in). He then put a
cordon around the posts on the hills, lest the men should escape in
the night, and, having prepared for an assault the next morning, sent
us word to join him. He promised to send us horses for the journey at
daylight, and we went to the rendezvous breakfastless, not to lose
time, but he forgot us, and, after waiting for the horses till past 8
A.M., we set out on foot.

The snow lay a few inches deep, but the sun had come out strong, and
it was melted in patches, so that we stepped alternately in mud and in
snow, slipping and picking our way in the best haste we might until 2
P.M., when we arrived at Vukovich, a tiny village where Peko had his
headquarters for the moment, the entire population having taken refuge
across the frontier. Here the Russians had established an ambulance,
and we found the wounded coming in, and some young Russian medical
students dressing the wounds. We could hear the firing, and the echoes
of it rolling around the hills, and even the shouting of the chiefs
in the, to us, inarticulate insults to the enemy and encouragement to
their own men. One of the surgeons took his rifle and offered himself
as guide to the battlefield.

Vukovich is in a deep hollow, and, as we rose on the ridge that
separated it from the higher land on which the fight was going on,
a rifle ball sung over my head and went on into the village. Others
followed, some plunging into the earth near us, and some striking the
rocks. We were just in the range of the insurgents, who were fighting
up hill on the farther side of the hill, round the summit of which was
the circle of breastworks held by the doomed Turkish force, and
the bullets of the assailants ranged over to us. It was my first
experience under a prolonged fire, though not of being fired at, and
I must admit that it put me in a terrible funk. I put the largest
Montenegrin of the group which accompanied us between myself and the
firing party. I had not eaten a crumb since the day before, or taken
even a cup of coffee, and my legs were in cramp from the hard walking
for six hours in mud and snow, and I was ready to drop from fatigue
and hunger. One of the chiefs who came by on his way to the ambulance,
where the ghastly procession of wounded was now coming in, seeing me
pale and exhausted, offered me his flask of slievovits (plum brandy),
of which I drank a half-tumbler raw. The effect was marvelous, and
enabled me clearly to understand the meaning of the familiar term
"Dutch courage," so that I watched from afar the fight to the end
without a return of funk.

The Turks were entrenched within a double line of stone wall,
concentric, and the insurgents were fighting upwards, and when we came
on the scene the fighting was still at the lower wall. Presently there
was a more rapid firing, then a moment's lull, and then the firing
broke out again from the upper breastwork. The insurgents had charged
and carried the lower line and reversed it, and the poor Turks
surviving were driven into the inner circle of about a hundred feet in
diameter, out of which not one could hope to come alive. The rest of
the garrison of Trebinje were so cowed by the result of the fighting
the day before that they dared not come out to the relief of their

And so the night fell on us, and the bands returned to their camp,
leaving a cordon to pen in the few remaining Turks. We had many
wounded, and a few killed, amongst whom was Maxime Bacevich, voivode
of Baniani, and a cousin of the Prince of Montenegro, one of the
bravest of the brave, whose death was moaned over by all as we
gathered together that night in the large hut that served as
headquarters. It was a stone cabin of one room, at one end the stall
for the cattle, and in the centre a fireplace, the smoke from
which went out by a hole in the roof. Three sides of the room were
surrounded by a stone platform, wide enough for the tallest man to
lie with his feet to the fire; but there was no furniture, not even a
bundle of straw. This was the bed of fifty men, lying side by side
on the bare stone, my pillow being my felt hat, and my bedding my
overcoat. The fire was hot, and the smell indescribable,--fifty pairs
of dirty feet, and the bodies of fifty men, most of whom had not
washed for a month, with the cattle stall at the end,--that was our
lodging; but, tired as I was, I slept. At daylight the scouts came in
to tell us that in the night the little body of Turks had escaped,
probably through a sleeping cordon, and scattered up and down along
the road between Ragusa and Trebinje, the most of them having been
caught and killed as they ran. There was no mercy in this war, and
a man who was left behind was a dead man. One of the fugitives had
nearly reached Trebinje when he was met in the way by a Herzegovinian,
of whom he begged for quarter in the usual Turkish form, "aman"
(mercy), to which the Herzegovinian replied "taman" (enough), and cut
him down.

A week or more elapsed before Mukhtar Pasha, hurrying from Mostar,
could concentrate troops enough to clear the road and provision
Trebinje, and then he succeeded only by the most infantile blunders
on the part of the Christian forces. From that time until the spring
there was a succession of isolated conflicts with no connection, the
Turks attempting to provision the little fortresses in the mountains,
and the insurgents to damage the Turks as much as opportunity
permitted. The powers were by this time thoroughly aroused, and
the Austrian intervention followed. Baron Rodich, the governor of
Dalmatia, called a conference of the insurgent chiefs at Sutorina
to arrange a pacification. I went to see Rodich, a shrewd, precise
functionary, liberal, as far as one could well be in his position, and
I saw at once that, while he was determined to obey his orders, and
urge a pacification because it was in accordance with his orders, he
had no faith in success, and had a great sympathy with the insurgents.
He was peremptory, and had a soldier-like aversion to special
correspondents; but he was very just, and might have done much had
the situation admitted any other result than the fighting it out.
The Turks would make no concession and admit no reverse, and the
insurgents, having been victorious in three out of four combats,
and having brought the Turkish forces into the most desperate
demoralization (as I was able to learn by the Turkish deserters who
came daily into Ragusa), were not in the least disposed to relinquish
the hold on the position they had won. In the rude shelter obtainable
within the Austrian territory there were thousands of women, children,
and wounded men, supported by the charity of Europe, now largely
excited, leaving the active insurgents free for their operations.

At Ragusa I watched the course of events with informants in every part
of the field of action, having become by this time regarded as the
unflinching friend of the insurrection, to whom all good Slavs were
under obligation of service. I then made the acquaintance and acquired
the friendship of that admirable diplomat whose subsequent career
and mine have repeatedly crossed each other, Sir Edward Monson, then
diplomatic agent at Ragusa, and of a brave and good soldier, the
Austrian commander, General Ivanovich, of whom and of whose excellent
family I have the most delightful recollections, and whose society
during all the time I remained in Ragusa was my sole social refuge
from the wretched life of a special correspondent in half-civilized
regions. It was a poetic and attractive household, and the light of
it, the beauty of Madame Ivanovich and her two daughters, and the
serenity which fell on me when I entered it, remain in my memory as
the sunny oasis in the life of that period. Then, too, I made the
acquaintance of an eminent scholar who was to be for many years after
the stanchest of friends and allies, Professor Freeman, the great
historian, but greater humanitarian, whose too early death I still
feel to be my great personal loss. He had two companions, of whom one
was Lord Morley, who had come to Ragusa to see what there was in the
affair of the Herzegovina; and to their impressions was no doubt due
much of the weight given to the "Times" reports subsequently.

Between fruitless negotiations, attempts to delude the insurgents
by insincere promises, and the greatest efforts on the part of
my _soi-disant_ friend, Danish Effendi, to win over the body of
correspondents by this time collected at Ragusa (he told me in so many
words that he had informed the Turkish government that my pen was
worth 40,000 francs to it), the rest of the winter passed away
quietly. It was evident that war would be declared in the spring
between the principalities and Turkey, and I went home thoroughly worn
out and ill. I went by the way of Venice, and had my first sight
of the city coming in at early morning from Trieste by steamer.
Accustomed as I had been to the color of Turner as the aspect of the
Grand Canal, it seemed to me that what I saw from the steamer was
the ghost of Venice, pallid, wan, faded to tints which were only the
suggestion of Turner's, but still lovely in their fading, and the
impression was more pathetic than it would have been with all the glow
of the great Englishman's palette. My wife met me at the steamer,
and we went home by short stages, for I was too weak to bear a long
railway journey.



I returned to Montenegro in the following June, after the diplomacy of
Europe had vainly and discordantly discussed mediation all the winter.
An armistice had suspended hostilities, but the Turks continued the
concentration of troops on the frontiers of the principality, north
and south, and refused the conditions of the Prince for a peaceful
solution. Everything waited for the acceptance by Servia of the
programme for the war which was to be declared by the principalities
against Turkey. The official declaration of war took place on the 2d
of July, and on the 3d the Prince set out with flying banners for the
conquest of the Herzegovina. My orders being to remain in touch with
the telegraph, I had to resign the pleasure of the campaign, and
I passed the time in studying up accessories. The Prince started
directly for Mostar, accompanied by the Austrian military attaché,
Colonel Thoemel, one of the most intensely anti-Montenegrin Austrian
officials I ever met. If the Austrian government had intended to
inflict on the Prince the most humiliating censor in its service, and
make the relations between the governments as bad as possible, they
could not have chosen an agent more effective than Thoemel. In his
hatred of Montenegro and enjoyment of the _fortiter in re_, he
entirely threw off the _suaviter in modo_. He enjoyed intensely every
petty humiliation he could inflict on the Prince, who, with the
greatest tact, never noticed his rudeness. The maintenance of good
relations with Austria tasked the Prince's diplomacy to the utmost. As
I saw nothing of the campaign, I will dispose of it by saying that,
when the Prince had nearly reached Mostar, the colonel informed him
officially that if he took Mostar he would be driven out of it by the
Austrian army, and, after a slight skirmish on the hills commanding
the city, the Prince took the road towards Trebinje. Meanwhile the
operations on the southern frontier, under the direction of the
amiable and competent Bozo Petrovich, remained for my observation.

One of the chiefs of clans who were waiting at Cettinje for the plan
of the southern campaign was Marko Millianoff, hereditary chief of the
Kutchi, an independent Slav tribe on the borders of Albania, generally
allied in the frontier operations with the Montenegrins. The Turks
desired particularly to subdue this people in the outset of the
campaign, as their territory commanded the upper road from Podgoritza
to Danilograd, and hostilities commenced with an attack on them. While
waiting I made the acquaintance of Marko, whom I found to be one of
the most interesting characters I met in Montenegro. His courage and
resource in stratagem were proverbial in the principality. I had
a capital Ross field-glass, and amused him one day by showing its
powers. He had never seen a telescope before, and his delight over
it was childlike. "Why," he exclaimed in rapture, "this is worth a
thousand men." "Then take it," I said, "and I hope it will prove worth
a thousand men." His force of 2500 men was then blockading the little
fortress of Medun, a remotely detached item of the defensive system of
Podgoritza, and on the next day he set out for his post.

I saw him some months later, and he told me that when the great sortie
from Podgoritza to relieve Medun came in view of the blockading force,
though at a distance of several miles, his men declared that they
could not fight that immense army, which filled the valley with its
numbers and had the appearance of a force many times greater than
their own. Marko looked at it through the glass and found it to be
mainly a provision train, for Medun was on the verge of starvation,
the garrison having "shaken out the last grain of rice from their
bags," to use the expression of the moment. When Marko's men found the
actual number of fighting men in the Turkish sortie, they decided to
fight it out. They didn't mind ten to one, they said, but much more
than that had appeared to confront them. The Turks, commanded by
Mahmoud Pasha, a good Hungarian general, were about 20,000 men,--as
I afterwards learned from various sources, including the English
consulate at Scutari,--comprising 7000 Zebeks, barbarians from the
country back of Smyrna, accustomed to the yataghan, and supposed to be
qualified opponents of the Montenegrins in the employment of the cold
steel. Marko fought retreating from the morning until about 2 P.M.,
when the Turks stopped to eat, having driven the Montenegrin force
back and toward Medun about three miles. When the Turks had eaten and
began to smoke, Millianoff gave the word to charge; and though the
Turks had built thirteen breastworks to fall back on as they advanced,
they yielded to the vigorous assault of the first line, and the
Montenegrins swept through the whole series with a rush, not
permitting the Turks to form again or gather behind one, and drove
those who escaped under the walls of Podgoritza, leaving 4700 dead on
the way, for no prisoners were taken. Millianoff said, when I saw
him again, "Your glass saved us the battle," which was virtually
the preservation of the independence of the tribe, and possibly the
decision of the campaign on that side. The fortress was obliged, a
little later, to surrender, and in the subsequent siege of Niksich the
artillery taken at Medun served a very good purpose, being heavier
than anything the Montenegrins had.

I had secured for correspondent with the Prince the services of his
Swiss secretary, an excellent fellow by the name of Duby; and, as all
the interest of the war for the moment lay in the campaign of the
Prince against Mostar and its consequences, I arranged to have my news
at Ragusa by telegraph, and there I went for the time being. On the
28th of July I received at 11 P.M. the news of the battle of Vucidol,
in which the army of Mukhtar Pasha was routed and nearly destroyed,
Mukhtar himself barely escaping by the speed of his horse, entering
the gate of Bilek only a hundred yards in advance of his foremost
pursuer, his wounded horse falling in the gateway. Of his two
brigadiers, one, Selim Pasha, a most competent and prudent general,
was killed, and the other, Osman Pasha, the Circassian, taken
prisoner. He lost all his artillery, and thirteen out of twenty-five
battalions of regulars, two hundred prisoners being taken; but while
these were _en route_ to Cettinje they became alarmed and showed a
disposition to be refractory, and were put to death at once by the
escort. The ways of warfare in those parts were, in spite of all the
orders of the Prince, utterly uncivilized, the Montenegrin wounded
being always put to death if they fell into the hands of the enemy,
and no quarter being given in battle by the Montenegrins, though Turks
who surrendered in a siege were kept as prisoners during the war. I
had seen Mukhtar at Ragusa during the conference at the time of the
armistice, and he bore out in his personal appearance the description
which Osman Pasha gave of him,--dreamy, fanatical, ascetic, who gave
his confidence to no one, and who said, when Selim proposed a council
of war before Vucidol, "If my fez knew what was in my head I would
burn it," and refused to listen to the cautionary measures Selim
advised preliminary to the attack. The ascetic and the fanatic was
written in his face. Returning to Cettinje, I found Osman there
a prisoner on parole, and at my intercession he was permitted to
accompany me to Ragusa, where I returned after a few days, life in
Montenegro being intolerably dull except during the fighting.

The next movement on the part of the Turks, which was expected to be
one by Dervish Pasha, from the base of Podgoritza towards Cettinje,
called me into the field again. We took position along the heights of
Koumani, on the verge of the great table-land which intervenes between
Rieka and Danilograd, and from which we could see the Turkish camps
spread out on the plain below us; and if the Turks had but known where
we were, they might have thrown their shells from the blockhouses in
the plain into our camp. There was no attack for the moment, and the
scouts of the Montenegrins used to amuse themselves by arousing the
Turkish camps in the night or by stealing the horses and mules
from the guards set over them. A band of seven stole, during this
suspension of operations, forty horses and brought them into the
camp, and one, more cunning and light-footed than the rest, stole
the pasha's favorite horse from the tent where he was guarded by two
soldiers sleeping at the entrance, and brought him to the Prince at
Koumani. He had to take the precaution of wrapping the creature's
hoofs in rags before bringing him out of the tent. When the object was
to stir the Turks out of their rest, a half-dozen men would crawl up
to the stone wall which they invariably threw up around the camp, and
lay their rifles on it, for there was never a sentry set, and fire
rapidly into the tents as many shots as they could before rousing the
camp, and then scatter and run. The whole battalion would turn out and
continue firing in every direction over the country for half an hour,
while the artillery, as soon as the guns could be manned, followed the
example, and almost every night we were roused from our sleep by the
booming of the guns.

The early collapse of the Servian defense led, after some
negotiations, to a truce, and diplomacy took up the matter, and in
September I went home again. The "Times" correspondence had given the
Montenegrin question serious importance in England, and during
the winter I had several opportunities to discuss it with men of
influence, amongst whom were Gladstone and the Marquis of Bath, who
invited me to pass some days at Longleat to inform him more completely
on it. During my last stay in Montenegro I had been informed by Miss
Irby--one of the women who distinguish their English race by their
angelic charity and works for humanity, and who, being engaged in
benevolent work in Bosnia, became one of my firm allies--that reports
had been put in circulation in London against my probity and the
trustworthiness of my correspondence, imputing to me indeed a conduct
which would have excluded me from honorable society. This was the
work of the pro-Turkish party, enraged by the sympathy evoked by my
correspondence on behalf of the Montenegrins, and Sir Henry Elliott
had made himself the mouthpiece of it. Mr. Gladstone, having
become warmly interested in the little mountain principality by my
correspondence, had taken its case up in a strong review article, and
had persuaded Tennyson to devote a sonnet to it. He was, as he himself
informed me, warned by Sir Henry Elliott not to trust to my letters or
to employ them as authority for his work, for Sir Henry said that
I was considered in the Levant, where I was well known, to be an
infamous and untrustworthy character. Mr. Gladstone, therefore, though
he used my facts, referred them to the authority of a second-hand
version. Fortunately for me and my work, Professor Freeman had heard
the reports in question, and knowing me personally, and taking the
passionate interest he did in the war against the Turks, applied
himself to the investigation of the tales, and satisfied himself
and Gladstone that they were simple libels, without a shadow of
foundation, and even had never been heard of until they were
promulgated in London. They were the coinage of political passion.

Gladstone sent me word through Freeman that he wished me to call on
him to receive personally his apologies for having believed and been
influenced by them, and I went to see him as he requested for that
purpose. He told me at the same time that though he did not usually
read the "Times," he had taken it to read my letters. He asked me many
questions about the principality, showing his great interest, as well
as his political acumen, and amongst the questions was one which, at
the time, gave me great thought, and still retains its significance.
It was, "Have the Montenegrins any institutions on which a national
future can be built?" He was desirous of knowing if Montenegro could
be made the nucleus of a great south Slavonic organization. I was
unable to give him any assurance of the existence of anything beyond
the primitive and patriarchal state which fitted its present position,
in which a personal government by a wise prince is sufficient to reach
all the needs of the population. And to-day I am of the opinion that a
greatly enlarged Montenegro would run the danger of becoming a little
Russia, in which the best ruler would be lost in the intricacies of
the intrigues and personal ambitions that facilitate corruption and
injustice, and where the worst ruler might easily become a curse to
all his neighbors. Gladstone's good-will had its issue later in the
enforced restitution to Montenegro of the district of Antivari and
Dulcigno, which the Montenegrin army had taken, but evacuated, pending
the disposition of the congress which after S. Stefano regulated the
treaty of peace.

Lord Bath, beside the political question, was interested in the
religious situation of the principality, which has maintained its
national existence and character through its form of ecclesiastical
organization, that of the Orthodox faith. He had sent me on two
occasions considerable sums of money for the wounded and the families
of the killed in the war, and always took a vivid interest in its
fortunes. He repeated to me a conversation he had had at Longleat with
Beaconsfield, in which he had asked the minister what interest England
had in Montenegro that induced the government to give it aid and
countenance, as it did after a certain stage in the war. Beaconsfield
had replied that "England had no interest whatever in Montenegro, but
that the letters in the 'Times' had created such an enthusiasm for
the principality that the government had been obliged to take it into
account." The Prince was fully informed on this score, and he and
all his people recognized the debt they owed the "Times," and, as an
exception to all my political experience, they have shown themselves a
grateful people, and Prince as well as people have always shown
their gratitude in all ways that I could permit. The Greeks almost
unanimously became hostile to me when I became the advocate of a
Slavonic emancipation, and of the Hellenic friends I made while in
Crete, Tricoupi alone of men of rank remained my personal friend after
the Montenegrin campaigns.

Amongst the Russian fellow campaigners there were several with whom
I contracted friendships which endure, chief among them being
Wassiltchikoff, the head of the Red Cross staff, who was also
dispenser of the bountiful contributions of the Russian committees for
the wounded and the families of the killed. I must confess a strong
liking for the Russian individual, and I have hardly known a Russian
whom I did not take to, in spite of a looseness in matters of veracity
in which they are so unlike the Anglo-Saxon in general. I think that
the time is coming when the evolution of the Russian character will
make the race the dominant one in Europe; and that, when the vices
inherent in a people governed despotically have been outgrown, they
will develop a magnificent civilization, which, in poetry, in music,
and in art, even, may distance the West of to-day. But in the crude
and maleficent despotic form of government which now obtains, they
are likely to menace for a long time the well-being of the world.
The struggle between the German and the Slav, however long it may be
postponed, is inevitable, and the defeat of the German secures the
Russian domination of Europe. Napoleon's alternative, "Cossack or
Republican," is substantially prophetic, though the terms are more
probably "Despotic or Constitutional." I have no animosity toward
Russia, but any advance of her influence in the Balkans seems to me
to be a battle gained by her in this conflict. Established at
Constantinople, her next stage would be Trieste; and the ultimate
Russification of all the little Slavonic nationalities of the Balkans,
of which she is now the champion, becomes inevitable. The only
safeguard against this is the maintenance of Austria as the suzerain
power in the peninsula.

But, for the personal Russian, as I have said, I have always had a
thorough liking, and all through the Montenegrin campaigns I held
those who were there as warm friends. The official Russians were not,
however, popular in Montenegro, the people possessing an unusual
degree of independence, and the Russians attaching more importance to
their aid and coöperation than the circumstances made it politic to
show; and Jonine, who became minister-resident at Cettinje, was,
perhaps, the most unpopular foreigner there, while Monson, who became
English agent there, was, both with prince and public, the most
popular. The entry into the alliance with Russia made little
difference in the sentiments of the people, and even the Prince
resisted, in an extraordinary and even impolitic degree, the Russian
suggestions in the conduct of the war.



With the return of spring I resumed my position, and when I arrived at
Cettinje, in the beginning of April, the situation was one which made
it politic for the Sultan, had he known his pressing interests, to
yield to the conditions on which peace could have been preserved.
Montenegro held a position stronger than that of the year before, and
the Prince, under diplomatic pressure, withdrew the conditions which
he had originally insisted on, except two, viz., the recognition of
the independence of the Kutchi and the repatriation of the refugees
from Herzegovina, with guarantees for their tranquillity. This latter
was a _sine qua non_ of the restoration of Montenegro to its original
condition, for the principality was supporting on the slender basis of
its always insufficient means a population almost equal to its own,
and was already in a state approaching famine. Russia was sending
shiploads of corn, and English charity was, as it always is, large,
but the retention of the refugees permanently was impossible, even
with foreign aid. They were destitute not merely of homes but of
earthly goods, to an extent that made them as helpless as children,
for there was no more work to be done in the principality than the
women were accustomed to do in war time.

Russia declared war on the 25th of April, and the English agent left
four days later, warmly saluted by the Prince, who had found in him a
true and disinterested friend. Jonine's animosity towards Monson was
intense, and as the former, as Russian plenipotentiary, considered
himself entitled to give direction to the diplomacy of Cettinje, he
was furious over the evident favor with which Monson was regarded by
the Prince, who often followed his advice. It was a sore point with
the Montenegrins, from the Prince down, that Jonine was so officious
in his intervention even in military advice, where he had not the
least competence; and in general the Montenegrins resented the
dictation of the Russian staff, even where it had every reason to urge
its own views of the operations. On the occasion of the next birthday
of the Czar, which was as usual celebrated in Montenegro by a
diplomatic and official dinner, the Prince refused to come to the
table, sending Duby to preside. Jonine was extremely unpopular with
Prince and people, owing to his dictatorial ways. The Austrian
representative had an opening to great influence which he might have
seized if he had been a man of tact, but he was ostentatiously hostile
to the Prince and the Montenegrin cause. Monson, on the other hand,
and Greene, the English consul at Scutari, exerted their influence in
every way for the principality, and but for them the supplies of grain
from Russia, which had been sent on during the armistice and had been
maliciously delayed by the authorities at Scutari as they came by
water through the Boyana, would probably have been stopped at the
critical moment by the outbreak of hostilities.

The news of the declaration of war by Russia produced immense
enthusiasm in the principality, and the people now felt that they were
in a position to fight out with the Turks the quarrel of four hundred
years. With the Prince and his staff, I went to the new headquarters
at Orealuk, where he had a little villa nearly midway between the pass
to the plain of Niksich and Podgoritza. The southern frontier was held
by the division of "Bozo" (Bozidar) Petrovich on the west of the Zeta,
and on the east by that of the minister of war, Plamenaz, posted on
the heights over Spuz. They were opposed by Ali Saib Pasha and two or
three subordinate generals. On the north, at Krstaz, was Vucotich, the
father-in-law of the Prince, a brave man, but neither a good general
nor a good administrator, and to his incompetence as strategist the
Montenegrins were indebted for the egregious failure of the northern
defense. This failure at one moment menaced the total collapse of
the Montenegrin campaign, from which the ability of Bozo saved it.
Suleiman Pasha, later distinguished by his Bulgarian campaign,
had replaced Mukhtar, and had spent three months in drilling and
disciplining his troops for the Montenegrin method of fighting. The
terrible passes of the Duga offered ideal positions for a defense by
such a force as the Montenegrin,--brave, good shots, and absolutely
obedient to orders; and the best military advice on our side
pronounced them impregnable if properly defended.

So the Prince went to Ostrog, and the northern army took position
on the plain of Niksich, the advance posts being connected with
headquarters at Ostrog by telegraph, and I took up my quarters with
the Prince in the convent. With great ability, Suleiman out-manoeuvred
Vucotich in the Duga, and debouched in the plain near Niksich before
the Montenegrin army could reach Plamnitza, where the valley of the
Zeta and our position at Ostrog were to be defended, and if Suleiman
had pushed on without stopping to recruit he might have taken us
all in our quarters. The mendacious dispatches of victory from the
Montenegrin commander gave us to believe that the Turks were kept at
bay, until we found that they were actually in Niksich, and there was
not a single battalion to serve as bodyguard to the Prince at Ostrog.
Simultaneously with the attack on Duga, the army of Ali Saib attacked
on the south; but, defeated most disastrously two days in succession,
was obliged to relinquish the effort to meet Suleiman in Danilograd,
where, if united, they would have held the principality by the throat.

The reports of the fight from Bozo sent me down to get the details of
the victory, of which he had given me by telegraph a summary account,
and I arrived at his headquarters at Plana, overlooking the Turkish
movements, late that afternoon, accepting an invitation to pass the
night and see the operations of the next day. Until I arrived at his
camp Bozo had received no information of the passage of the Duga, nor
of the relief of Niksich; but I had not been with him two hours before
we saw the smoke arising from the villages on the northern slopes of
the heights that commanded the head of the valley of the Zeta, which
connects the plains of Niksich and Podgoritza and divides Montenegro
into two provinces, anciently two principalities,--the Berdas and the
Czernagora or Black Mountain. This conflagration showed that Suleiman
had crowned the heights, and would have no more difficulty in
descending through the valley to Danilograd. Suleiman's campaign was
planned on the idea of a triple attack on the heart of Montenegro,
by himself from Krstaz, Ali Saib from Spuz, and Mehemet Ali, my old
friend in Crete, from Kolashin via the upper Moratsha, the three
armies to meet at Danilograd. Ali Saib and Mehemet Ali were
disastrously defeated, though before I left Plana in the morning a
third attack from Spuz was begun, and fought out under my eyes while I
waited, the Turks being driven back again.

I started for a leisurely ride back to Ostrog, and half way there met
a fugitive who told me that the Turks were at the convent, and the
Prince retreating on the western side of the valley. Another half
hour and I should have been in the hands of the irregulars, who were
skirmishing and burning, killing and plundering, as they followed the
eastern side, the two armies being hotly engaged in the forests along
the crest of the mountains above us around Ostrog. I retrograded to
Plana, and thence, by the urgent counsels of Bozo, to Cettinje, as the
position was critical, and the campaign might take an unexpected turn
and make my escape impossible.

The army of Suleiman took ten days of fighting to cover the distance I
had made in three hours' leisurely ride, and reached the plain of Spuz
so exhausted and decimated that Suleiman had to reorganize it before
he could make another move. He had narrowly escaped a great disaster,
possibly the surrender of his whole army, only by the incompetence of
the Montenegrin commander. He had abandoned all his communications
with Niksich, like Sherman at Atlanta in the American war, and had to
depend on what he carried with him, for the country offered nothing.
Vucotich, instead of intrenching himself with his main force in the
woods in front of Suleiman, adopted the tactics of opening to let him
pass, and then attacking him in the rear, though he was strong enough
to have stopped him and starved him into surrender. As it was he lost
10,000 men in the passage of the Bjelopawlitze. At this moment the
English consul at Scutari, Mr. Greene, came to Cettinje and visited
the camp of Suleiman, in which visit I wished to imitate him, but he
warned me that it would be probably a fatal call, as I would not have
been allowed to return. Mr. Greene gave me Suleiman's account of the
fighting in the Duga, in which the Turkish general described the
Montenegrin attacks as displaying a courage he had never before
witnessed. They charged the solid Turkish squares, and, grappling the
soldiers, attempted to drag them from the ranks. The Montenegrin loss
was 800 killed. The ammunition was bad, and the mountaineers often
threw their rifles away and attacked with the cold steel. The average
advance of the Turks was about a mile a day.

So we waited for the next news from Suleiman with an anxiety in
Cettinje not known for a generation. It was supposed that Suleiman
would repeat the campaign of Omar Pasha, moving on Cettinje by Rieka,
and all the fighting men were called out and the villages on that side
evacuated. In this state of painful expectation the news arrived of
the passage of the Danube by the Russian army, and the recall of
Suleiman and his army for the defense of the principalities. The
relief in Cettinje rose to jubilation, and we all returned to our
habitual life.

The Prince, freed from this incubus, prepared for the siege of Niksich
in good earnest, and, with the diplomatic representatives and the
Russian staff, we returned and pitched our camp in the plain, by
the side of a cold spring (Studenitzi), which supplied us with an
abundance of water, but within cannon shot of the fortress, the shells
from which were going over us continually, striking in the plain a
few hundred yards beyond us and bursting harmlessly. If the Turks had
understood howitzer practice they could have dropped their shells
amongst us without fail. The horses could not graze, and the women who
came with their husbands' rations could not reach us without passing
within gunshot of the outlying trenches of the Turks, and I have seen
a file of them come in, each with a huge loaf of bread on her head,
and the bullets from the trenches flying around them, but not one
hastening her step or paying the least attention to the danger. This
is the habit of the Montenegrin woman, who would consider herself
disgraced by a display of fear, no matter what the danger. I have seen
them go down to the trenches where their husbands were lying for days
together, during which time the wives brought the rations every five
days, and they always took the opportunity to discuss the affairs
of the household deliberately, though under fire, and walk away as

But our quarters at Studenitzi were not to the taste of the attachés
who took no part in the fighting, and we broke camp, and moved off to
the edge of the plain, all the time under the fire of the artillery of
the fortress. The Montenegrin artillery was brought up, and one by one
the little forts which studded the margin of the broad expanse were
taken. The first attacked held out till the shells penetrated its thin
walls, and then surrendered unconditionally. The garrison, twenty or
more Albanian nizams, were brought to the headquarters, and we all
turned out to see them. Bagged, half famished, and frightened they
were, and, through an Albanian friend who interpreted for me, I
offered them coffee. They looked at me with a surprise in their eyes
like that of a wild deer taken in a trap, and resigned to its fate,
knowing that escape was impossible; and when they had drunk the coffee
they asked if we were going to decapitate them now. When I assured
them that there was no more question of their decapitation than of
mine, and that they were perfectly safe, they broke into a discordant
jubilation like that of a children's school let loose; life had
nothing more to give them. They had no desire to be sent back to their
battalions, and they stayed with us, drawing the pay and rations they
should have had, and rarely got, when under their own flag.

The scene our camp presented was one to be found probably under
no other sky than that which spread over us in the highlands of
Montenegro. The tents of the Prince, the chiefs, and the attachés
were pitched in a circle, in the centre of which at night was a huge
camp-fire, round which we sat and listened to stories or discussions,
or to the Servian epics sung by the Prince's bard, to the
accompaniment of the _guzla_, to which the assembly listened in a
silence made impressive by the tears of the hardened old warriors,
most of whom knew the pathetic record by heart, and never ceased to
warm with patriotic pride at the legends of the heroic defense, the
rout of Kossovo, and the fall of the great empire, of which they were
the only representatives who had never yielded to the rule of the
Turk. Substitute for the rocky ridge which formed the background of
the scene the Dardanelles, and the fleet drawn up on the shore before
Troy, and you have a parallel such as no other country in our time
could give. Both armies retired to their tents at nightfall, and no
sentries or outposts were placed on either side at night; and now and
then a long-range skirmish went on, or a Montenegrin brave, tired
of the monotony of such a war, would go out between the lines and
challenge any Mussulman to come out and try his prowess with a
Christian. One pope, Milo, a hero of the earlier war, rode up and down
before the Turkish outposts, repeating every day his challenge, and at
last the Turks hid a squad of sharpshooters where he used to ride, and
brought him down with a treacherous volley, then cut off his head and
sent it in to the Prince.

Our guns were not heavy enough to cope with those of the fortress, and
so we passed the time shelling the redoubts thrown up on the little
hillocks around the town, alternating these operations with an
occasional assault of one of the nearest of them when the men got
impatient for some active movement. Meanwhile we learned that the
Russian government was sending us four heavier guns, sixteen and
thirty-two bronze rifled breech-loaders, the heaviest we had being
ten-pound muzzle-loaders against a battery of field guns, Krupp steel,
breech-loading twelve-pounders. The Russian guns were landed on the
Dalmatian coast below Budua and carried across the narrow strip of
Austrian territory which separated Montenegro from the sea, between
two lines of Austrian troops, lest some indiscreet traveler should
reveal the violation of neutrality, and were brought to Niksich, about
forty miles, on the shoulders of a detachment of Montenegrins over a
roadless mountain country, no other conveyance being possible.



Pending the arrival of the guns, I explored the more remote and by
no traveler hitherto visited section of the Berdas, charged by the
Russian Red Cross and the English committees with the distribution of
a considerable sum of gold amongst the wounded and families of the
killed in that section. With a single _perianik_ (one of the Prince's
bodyguard) and my horse boy, who served as interpreter, I set out for
the great plains of the northeastern provinces, then menaced by an
invasion of a strong division from Kolashin, intended to effect a
diversion for the relief of Niksich. Climbing the heights which make a
rim like the wall of a crater round the plain of Niksich, I reached
a table-land _(planina)_ which rolls away to the frontier. I made my
first halt at the monastery of Zupa, situated in a lovely valley where
the fertility of the land supports a considerable population, and
where the Russians had established a hospital. Nothing could exceed
the kindness and humanity of those Russian surgeons. There was one
poor patient who had received a ball in the mouth, which lodged in the
neck and caused a suppuration, involving an artery, which burst into
the wound. The carotid was tied, but the operation failed to stop
the hemorrhage, and I found the surgeons relieving each other every
quarter of an hour in holding a pledget of lint on the wound, in
a determined effort to save the man's life if it were physically
possible. The hospital was admirably conducted.

In this beautiful valley I waited several days, wandering amongst
the hills. There were flocks of wild pigeons and other game in the
vicinity, and one morning of summer weather I took my gun and strolled
out alone, having no apprehension of personal danger where there was
no fighting population. Approaching a village curiously intent, I
discovered an old woman, who, on seeing this unexplained stranger,
armed, and with no company of her kin, set up a terrible hullabaloo,
shouting, "The Turks! The Turks!" and calling the boys to the defense,
and in a jiffy the whole village was up in alarm. I ran as fast as I
could in the direction of the monastery, conscious that every boy in
the valley had some old pistol, and would not even ask the questions I
could not answer before immolating me in the defense of his village.
Life is of no account in such circumstances, and the explanation would
have been made too late to do me any good, but I never walked out
again without my interpreter while in that country.

The object of my excursion was the ancient convent of Dobrilovina,
then the advanced post towards Kolashin, the Turkish station in Old
Servia, and the point from which all invasions from the east entered
Montenegro; and the ride was by far the most interesting of all that I
made in the two principalities. From the valley of Zupa we rose on a
plateau known as the Lola Planina, on which the watershed is to
the north and east and into the Danube. We rode through Drobniak a
province the right to which was still theoretically disputed between
Turk and Christian, the fruition of peace belonging to the latter;
that of war to the former, for it always fights with Montenegro, and
is periodically ravaged by the Turks. We were on the watershed between
the Adriatic and the Euxine, and the brooks were tributary to the
Danube through the Tara. The land is an immense upland, rolling
slightly, and the finest grass land I ever saw; it is an immense
prairie, with the horizon unbroken, except by the picturesque peak
of Dormitor at the north, the summit peak of the mountains of upper
Herzegovina, and the centre of the glacial system of the lands between
the Adriatic and the great Rascian valley which divides Servia and the
lower Danube from Montenegro. The flora was entirely new to me. I rode
through a thicket of marguerites so tall that the flowers came up to
my face, while the grass came up to my horse's belly. This is a great
hayfield, and the people come from far to cut and store the hay for
the winter, when they harness the stacks and drag them bodily to their
villages on the snow, which sometimes falls, they told me, to the
depth of fifteen or more feet. To the east stretched the rolling
prairie without a house or a village to the Signavina (desolate land)
Planina, solitary as the Sahara, for no man would build where a
Turkish raid on this disputed land might sweep him and his into one

That there had been a great population once on these plains was
evident from ancient cemeteries with elaborate monuments of an early
but unknown people, of whom they are the only remains. The tombs were
rudely worked and decorated in prehistoric manner with devices of war
or the chase; one device, which I copied, being of an archer shooting
a wild goat, another of a warrior with a long broadsword and large
square shield. On some tombs were a crescent and star, the emblem of
Constantinople; on a few a cross; but there was no attempt at a letter
or other sign of language. The entire absence of any ruins within the
distance of our journeys (and by the report of the natives there were
none in the country round about) made the presence of these cemeteries
an archaeological problem to which I obtained no clue until some time
later, on the surrender of Niksich. We then discovered that a
large part of the town was formed of houses--huts would be more
correct--constructed on sledges, huge runners of timber, into which
had been driven stakes, forming the frame of the house. The stakes
were filled in with willow branches, and the walls were completed
with mud, the whole being roofed with thatch. The forward end of the
runners was perforated for a bar, to which oxen could be attached, and
the house was evidently to be drawn from place to place, as the herds
and flocks found food. Of this nature had probably been the towns or
villages to which the cemeteries belonged, and their existence still
on the plain of Niksich, where they must have been built without any
possibility of removal beyond the limits of the plain (which is only
about ten miles in its greatest extent, and bounded by abrupt hills),
was a curious evidence of the intensely conservative character of the
population which had established itself there at a remote epoch.

The sledge houses at Niksich had never been moved, nor would there
have been any object in moving them, for the remotest part of the
plain was to be reached in a long hour's walk, and the rocky setting
of its grassy luxuriance, rising into higher land all round, by steep
ridges, would have shown the builders that where the house was built,
there it would stand. On these great planinas there might have been a
range far greater, but the presence of the cemeteries, which must have
been the result of a considerable duration of residence, proved that
the planinas now deserted, save for the summer haymakers, had once
been held by a considerable population. I desired to open one of the
graves, but the superstition of the people, whom no inducement could
prevail on to meddle with the dead, made it impossible to find workers
to aid me. I can only conjecture, therefore, from the emblems on the
tombs and the rudeness of the reliefs, that they must date from early
Christian times, probably the so-called Gallic (really Slavonic)
invasions prior to Diocletian; and two or three huge and elaborate
roadside crosses, cut from single stones and minutely decorated in
relief, found nearer Cettinje, added to the conjectural evidence, for
the origin of these was equally unknown to the present inhabitants.
We passed caves known immemorially as places of refuge and admirably
placed and prepared for defense. There is a great and untouched field
there for prehistoric research.

We stopped to pass the night at Shawnik, a village in one of the most
picturesque ravines I ever saw. There runs the Bukovitza, a tributary
of the Drina, a wild and bold trout stream, abounding also in
grayling, the trout being unaccustomed to the fly, as they are in
most of the streams hereabout. Shawnik lies in the gate to the open
country, the gateposts being two huge bastions of rock from which a
few riflemen could defy an army until they found a way around through
the rough country of Voinik, the chain which lay between us and
Niksich. I slept at the house of an Albanian tailor (all the tailors
in Montenegro and the Berdas are Albanians) and was made comfortable.
We found the voivode of the province, Peiovich, at Aluga, with his
headquarters in the schoolhouse, and keeping a lookout for the Turks,
who menaced an invasion from Kolashin, a band of them having just
attempted to pass the Tara, which bounds the plain on the north, but
being driven back with loss. I found Aluga a noble subalpine country,
a rolling plateau with here and there a little lake; to the northwest
the grand mass of Dormitor, and to the northeast the range of the
highlands which border the valleys of Old Servia, while to the east
and south the horizon was like that of the sea, an undulating plain
rolling far away out of the range of vision. Scattered houses dotted
the plain of Aluga, and the children came to stare, and brought us,
with the shyness of wild deer, little baskets of strawberries, which
in some places in the fir forests almost reddened the ground, and,
having pushed the offerings in at the door, ran like wild creatures,
as if to escape being noticed. Huge haystacks dotted the plain, and
the population seemed prosperous. We pushed on to the frontier post at
Dobrilovina through glades of fir-trees with pasture intervening, as
the soil was rocky or fertile, and reached the margin of the Tara late
in the afternoon, a good day's ride from Aluga.

The Tara has cut itself a cañon like those of the Yellowstone, and
on a little space of alluvial land at the bottom lies the convent,
a building of the Servian Empire, curiously spared by the Turkish
invasions. We descended 2500 feet, measured by my aneroid, to the
flat, where the monks made us most welcome. We walked along the river,
a rapid and shallow stream filled with trout, which refused to take
any lure I could show them,--and the monks said that they ate only the
crayfish which abounded in the river.

We went to sleep, to be awakened at midnight by the scouts who came
in to tell us that the Turks were out from Kolashin, and that some
thousands of Albanians of the Rascian country were raiding in advance,
and had already thrown their left far beyond us. Had they known we
were there, we might have been taken in a trap from which only fleet
fugitives would have escaped. With the dawn we were in our saddles
again, and, by the urgent advice of Peiovich, I took the back track,
while the battalion threw itself across the country to skirmish, and
retard the advance of the Turks while reinforcements could be brought
up. "Ride hard," said the voivode, "and keep ahead of the Albanians,
for when it comes to fighting we shall probably have to disperse and
every man provide for himself, and you do not know the country. Tell
the Prince to hurry up reinforcements." I lunched in the schoolhouse
of Aluga, and pushed on for Bukowitza and Shawnik, where the invasion
would be stopped with certainty. Half way to Bukowitza there burst on
us a terrific thunderstorm, with torrents of rain. One bolt struck so
near us that the concussion knocked my _perianik_ down, and my horse
jumped up on all fours as I never saw a horse do before, but neither
was touched by the lightning, and we arrived at the first house of
Bukowitza drenched and tired, having knocked the two days' march into

The owner of the house at which we asked for shelter said: "What I
have you are welcome to, but I have only two rooms, that in which the
family sleeps, and the kitchen. You are welcome to the bedroom, but
I fear there are too many fleas for you to sleep, and you had better
stay in the kitchen." I accepted the kitchen, and after a supper of
hot maize bread and trout fresh caught from the nearest brook, the
whole flooded with cream, I spread my cork mattress on a long bench
which served as chairs for the household, and, covering myself with
my waterproof, the only bedding attainable, I went to sleep. I was
awakened by the sound of something falling on the waterproof, which
I took to be bits of plaster from overhead, but, as it persisted, I
struck a light and discovered that it was caused by bugs which, not
finding a direct way to me from their nests in the wall, had climbed
up and dropped from the ceiling down on me. What with the insects
and the chance of being aroused at dawn by an attack of the raiding
Albanians, I did not sleep again, and was up at dawn preparing to
continue the journey to Shawnik, where alone we could count on being
safe from the swarms of bashi-bazouks, whose movements we could
already follow in the air by the smoke ascending from house and
haystack over the plains we had traversed the day before.

The day had broken fine, and after stopping long enough to make a
sketch of the house where I had passed the night, destined like all
others in the open country to be burned in the course of the day, I
pushed on to the fastness of Shawnik. The advance of the Turks was
practically unopposed, for there was only a battalion of Montenegrins
against thousands of irregulars and a strong division of regulars, and
the Prince, never much troubled about the odds except where he was
personally responsible, had not sent a man of the reinforcements which
Peiovich had urgently begged for by courier after courier, so he fell
back skirmishing until Socica from Piva joined him, when he made a

For several days the two armies watched each other, each waiting for
the offensive of the other, until one morning found the plain covered
with a fog so dense that the combatants could not see each other one
hundred yards away, when the Montenegrins made an attack so furious
that the Turks retreated and took refuge across the Tara and withdrew
to Kolashin, abandoning the movement and the attempt to relieve
Niksich. But the beautiful schoolhouse at Aluga and all the houses and
churches on the planina and at Bukowitza, the haystacks which had so
picturesquely dotted the plain, and which were to have furnished the
winter subsistence of all the flocks of the region, were ashes.

The night at Shawnik had proved as sleepless from fleas as that of
Bukowitza from bugs, and, what with the fatigue of the race against
time and the lack of any sleep for forty-eight hours, the next day
found me laboring under an attack of illness which left me absolutely
helpless, with a raging headache and cholera morbus. I dragged myself
out into the sun and ordered my horse boy to bring me a bucket of
water as hot as I could bear my feet in, and then made him keep it
hot with ashes until my feet were almost parboiled, when the headache
gradually subsided, leaving me a wilted, helpless being, hardly able
to sit in the saddle. I waited another day to recruit, and hoping to
hear from Peiovich the result of the invasion; but, hearing that the
deadlock might last for days, I returned to Niksich and found the
siege still going on as if it were the work of the generation.



To the Prince the siege of Niksich was like a game of chess played by
cable, a move a day. But even this brought progress, and, when we had
taken the outlying blockhouses, one by one, and there remained only
the citadel, a flimsy fortress, mainly, I should judge, the work of
the Servian kings, all that remained to accomplish was the bombardment
of its walls, which became a sort of spectacle, to which we went day
after day to watch the effect of the fire, as we should have done with
a game of skittles. I climbed up on the top of a neighboring mountain,
and, with my field-glass, inspected the town. Women went and came with
their water-pitchers on their heads, moving in serene tranquillity,
without quickening a step, and the life of the place seemed absolutely
undisturbed by the danger, as if shells did not burst. Now and then
one of the houses caught fire and varied the show; the Turkish return
fire was mainly directed at the batteries where the great Russian guns
were posted, and the Montenegrins used to sit on the rocks around,
utterly heedless of the Turkish fire, despising cover. Finally a shell
fell and exploded in the midst of a group of men, and, for the time,
cover was made compulsory by order of the Prince. But the rank and
file grew impatient, and demanded an attack with such insistence that
the Prince was obliged to move. There were two steep ridges to the
west of the city, crowned by strong stone breastworks and held by
considerable detachments of regulars, being positions of supreme
importance, as they commanded the redoubts on that side from a
distance of 300 to 500 yards. The Prince gave the assault of one to
a battalion of Montenegrins, and the other to the Herzegovinian

There was in our camp a young German officer who had been under a
shadow, and had been sent away to retrieve his reputation for courage.
He came to Montenegro to earn a decoration, and begged the Prince to
let him go with the Montenegrin battalion. At the foot of each ridge
was an outwork which had first to be taken by assault, from across the
open, and which was taken in the early twilight, the Turks seeking
refuge in the redoubt above. The Montenegrin force reversed the works
they had taken, and a desultory rifle fire went on till it was too
dark to see the sights of the rifles. We, the spectators, were
assigned posts to see the spectacle as at the theatre, and went to
them just after sundown. The straggling fire of the early twilight
stopped, and there was an unbroken silence and immobility which lasted
perhaps twenty minutes, and until everything had become vague and
indefinable in the deepening twilight, when we heard the signal, given
by a trumpet call, and instantly the steep sides of the two ridges
were crawling with gray shadows, and a terrific fire burst out from
the redoubts at the top, lasting for hardly ten minutes, when it
as suddenly ceased; and then, after a brief pause, the Montenegrin
trumpet sounded from the summit of their ridge to tell that the work
was done. We trooped back to our tents and to supper, and presently
came in our little German friend, unharmed and exultant. His account
was graphic. The Montenegrins had taken the outwork, working up on
hand and knee, crawling and firing from such cover as they could find
until the Turks broke and escaped to the summit, and the Montenegrins
lay close behind the wall they had taken. When the trumpet sounded
they threw their rifles down, drew their sword bayonets, and made a
rush with the naked steel. The fire broke out from the redoubt above,
said our little German, with a roar that was absolutely appalling; it
was as if the sky were woven with whistling missiles, and but for very
shame, seeing the rage of combat in the men around him, he would have
lain down in overmastering panic. But no man halted, and the race
between the two battalions was won by the Montenegrins only by a
minute, and they poured over the wall of the redoubts, the Turks who
could escape going out at the rear as their assailants poured in. When
it comes to this final charge, the Montenegrin always leaves his gun
behind and trusts only to the cold steel.

The next morning a flag of truce came to ask for terms, and the town
surrendered on condition of the garrison going out with their arms and
their private property. We went out to see them defile past the Prince
and his staff. The poor fellows were in rags, and the bundles they
carried on their backs contained everything they had in the world.
Wives and children in numbers followed or preceded, and to our
attempts to show them little kindnesses they shrank from us as if we
had been wolves, the children generally howling with fear when we
offered them a biscuit or a coin. One of our battalions escorted them
through the narrows of the Duga, and, when they reached the wild and
bosky gorge which makes its strongest position, the women stopped in a
paralysis of panic, asking if this was the place where they were to be
butchered, so completely had the Turkish authorities impressed on them
the fiction of infallible slaughter for all who fell into the hands of
the Montenegrins. The Prince gave the inhabitants four days to choose
whether they would stay and become his subjects or take all their
possessions and go to Albania. The most had decided to stay, when word
was sent them from Spuz that all who accepted the protection of the
Prince would be expelled and have all their property confiscated when
the Turks returned, and many were frightened into revocation of their
submission. Some were as irreconcilable as wolves, and would not
endure conversation with us. I found a little fellow, about five or
six, pasturing a lamb in the outskirts of the town, and tried, with
the aid of the interpreter, to enter into conversation with him, but
to no effect. He repelled every advance, and, when I offered him a
piastre, he refused it with a savage dignity, saying that he had money
of his own and did not want mine.

We took an immense booty in provisions, artillery (nineteen guns),
tents, and war material, left by Suleiman in the expectation of
returning after he had made the conquest of Montenegro. Ammunition
there was none, for the artillery had been supplied with old
muzzle-loading pistol and other cartridges broken up for the last
weeks of the siege. And so ended the contest of four hundred years.

The easy terms accorded by the Prince to the garrison of Niksich
brought their compensation a little later, when, the liberated
garrison being besieged anew in the impregnable fortress of Spizza
dominating the road from Dalmatia to Antivari, they gave in without a
serious defense, satisfied with the honors of war. It was clear,
from the testimony I was able to collect from Turkish deserters and
prisoners, that the obstinate defense of the garrisons under siege
was oftener due to the desperation inspired by the assurance of the
Turkish authorities themselves, that no quarter would be given to
those who surrendered, than to the bellicose ardor. A captain of the
Turkish nizams, who had commanded one of the little fortresses beyond
Niksich, and who surrendered to Socica when he knew that his tower was
undermined and would be blown up in a minute if he did not surrender,
declined to be released, as he knew that, whatever might happen to his
men, he would be shot for surrendering, and no account taken of the
necessity of saving the life of his men, to say nothing of his own.
The method of Socica in attacking those towers, which were of stone,
without any artillery, was to construct a wooden tower on wheels,
strong enough to resist rifle balls, and which, moved by the men
inside, approached the fortress, till actually in contact, when a mine
was put under the wall and the garrison was summoned to surrender.

Our Albanian captain preferred the climate of Cettinje to that of
Podgoritza, and there I made his acquaintance. He had not received a
penny of his pay for forty months, and was in rags and shoeless in
the depth of winter, when I knew him. I bought him some shoes and
second-hand clothes, and interested the Prince in his case, so that
finally he was given a place on the staff and regular pay. The
gratitude of the poor fellow was embarrassing. He begged me to take
him as a body servant, declaring himself ready to go with me to the
world's end, and I could hardly make him understand that a servant
would be a burden to me which I could not afford. He said to one of
the Montenegrin officers, "When I say my prayers for myself I always
ask God to be good to that English gentleman." As with most of the men
of his race whom I have made the acquaintance of, his native faculties
were of a high order. The Albanians are quick, ingenious, and
industrious, and are the best workmen in the finer industrial arts of
the Balkans, gold and silver workers of remarkable skill, dividing
the blacksmithing with the gypsy, but the best and indeed the only
armorers of that world. We had a number of them in the camp at
Niksich, refugees from the tribes on our frontier, and I found them
most interesting companions, generally speaking Italian and Serb as
well as their own dialects. Their conservatism is something almost
inexplicable. A friend who had campaigned with them told me that when
they sacked a village their first quest was always for old iron, which
they valued more than gold and silver, an estimation which can only
be the heredity of an age when iron was the article of the highest
utility, for now it is easy of acquisition everywhere about their
country. They reckon their ancestry from the mother, and when my
Cretan cavass, Hadji Houssein, spoke of his home, it was always as his
"mother's house."

Niksich settled under Montenegrin rule, and order established, the
Prince moved his headquarters to Bilek, a fortress which commanded the
roads from Ragusa to the interior of Herzegovina, and whence he could
dominate all the southern sections of that province, protecting his
frontier. There was, as usual, no road for wheels, only a rough
bridle-path, and the mobility of the Montenegrins under those
conditions was remarkable. They carried the thirty-two-pound
breech-loaders on fir poles run through the guns and supported on the
men's shoulders, faster than our horses could walk, and the artillery
rapidly distanced the staff and _corps diplomatique_, not even a rear
guard remaining with us. In company with one of the aides I rode on
under the impression that headquarters were behind us, until we got
lost in the labyrinth of paths running about the forest, and we lay
down under a tree to rest and wait for the staff to overtake us. Here
one of the perianiks found us and brought us to the Prince, who had
gone ahead on a blind road, with half a dozen perianiks, two or three
sirdars, and the diplomats. He had tried to show his knowledge of the
country and lost his way; so, coming to a pretty dell which took his
fancy, he ordered a halt and preparations to pass the night, and there
we found him.

We had no tents; the rendezvous for the night had been at Tupani,
several miles from where we were, and the division commanders were
with the men and had no communication with us. We had eaten an early
breakfast, and had brought no food; the only blankets were those of
the Prince. The perianiks gathered wood and made a fire, round which
we gathered, for the night set in sharp, it being the middle of
September in a high mountain country. One of the men had taken the
precaution to put two or three pieces of bread in his haversack before
starting, and this was divided between us, and I made my supper on
this and some wild plums I found growing there. Later the men went out
to forage and found a farmhouse, where they got straw and milk, with a
little sheep's-milk cheese. The proprietress, aroused by the invasion,
came down on us in a veritable visitation, furious at our burning her
wood. She abused the Prince and all the company in the most insulting
terms, and was finally placated only by a liberal compensation for
her wood. I spread my bundle of straw under the wild plum tree, and,
covered by my ulster, tempted sleep. I dozed until the ants found me
out, when, unable to lie quiet under the formication, I got up and
passed hours walking up and down till I was so tired that I almost
fell asleep walking; then I lay down again and slept for an hour, but
the cold and the ants awoke me again, and I spent the rest of the
night by the camp-fire. Meanwhile the army collected at Tupani knew
nothing of the Prince, and, with the early dawn, patrols were sent off
in every direction to beat up the country in search of him. Had the
Turks been on the lookout they might have gobbled up the Prince and
his diplomats without difficulty. Beaching the general rendezvous, I
decided that a more active occupation than following the tactics of
the Prince would suit me better, and I turned my horse's head towards
Niksich again. Another tedious siege like that of Niksich was not
to my taste, and I decided to explore the remoter provinces, and if
possible go to Wassoivich, the only corner of the great Dushanic
empire into which the Turk had never penetrated even for a raid,
where, under the rugged peaks of the Kutchi Kom, survived the best
representatives of ancient custom and life.



Niksich was full of smallpox and fever, and, as there was a great
abundance of tents captured with the city, I took one, with an extra
baggage-horse and his leader, and started for Moratsha. The wide plain
into which we entered after leaving the hills above Niksich was a
great pasture land, mottled as I never saw land before with mushrooms.
The abundance was extraordinary, but nothing would induce a
Montenegrin to eat one. We halted for our first night on the edge of a
magnificent natural meadow, where a shepherd had built his hut and was
feeding his flocks, and we took advantage of his presence to enjoy
some security against the wolves, pitching our tent in a little grove
close to him and picketing our horses between the tent and his hut. He
and his sons were on guard by turns all night, and the howling of the
tantalized wolves came clearly to us at times with, at long intervals,
the reports of the guns which were fired to keep them at a distance.
They were so near at one time that I got up and fired my fowling-piece
out of the tent, and we kept lights burning all night to prevent them
from attacking our horses. In the course of the night a thunderstorm
came up, and, as we had pitched the tent in a hollow to secure freedom
from stones in our beds, the rain, washed out our tent-pegs, and
the tent came down on us in our sleep. In the morning I sent to the
shepherd for a lamb for breakfast for the men, and he sent us what I
took for a full-grown sheep, so large and fat was it, and I sent it
back, asking for a lamb. He replied that it was a spring lamb, and
the smallest he had. The price of it was about two shillings, and for
another he offered to dress it for us.

From there we sent back the tent, and the following night we slept
at Velje Duboko, at the bottom of one of the ravines which make the
surprises of traveling in that country so great. You proceed along a
rolling plain with no suspicion of the cañon before you, and suddenly
find yourself on the verge of a cliff, looking down into a valley
hundreds of feet deep. Duboko lay by the river's margin fifteen
hundred feet below us, to be reached only by a winding journey of an
hour, though the shepherds carried on conversation from cliff to cliff
above. Here a momentary surprise by the Turkish bands has now and
then been possible, but never an occupation of the country. The
picturesqueness of the valley of the Duboko above the village can be
rarely surpassed by wild landscape, and the whole section, the centre
of which is the stronghold of Moratsha, is of a most interesting
character, utterly unlike the Czernagora proper.

At the convent of Moratsha I found civilization and comfort. The
hegumenos, a Dalmatian by birth, but a patriot of the first quality,
and a very militant Christian, made me most welcome. I had some money
from the English and Russian committees to distribute amongst the
needy wounded and the families of the killed, and the gratitude of the
naïve hearts was touching to a degree I never saw in richer countries.
But what most surprised them was that some of it came from the
English. "Why, English!" exclaimed one old woman, as she started back
when told that I was English; "they are a kind of Turk." All the world
there thought only of the English as the allies of the Turks, but the
hospitality they felt, and could show only in trifles, was unbounded.
I had brought with me a battle-axe I had found in the stores of
Niksich and taken as my part of the booty, but had not noticed that it
had never been sharpened, so that it was useless for cutting. One of
the men at the convent took it, and with a common whetstone (for there
was nothing in the nature of a grindstone in the place) brought it to
razor edge,--a job which a carpenter alone can appreciate; and, when
I tried to give him something for it, he put his hands behind him
and then ran out of sight. A little fellow, not over four years old,
stumbled upstairs to my room to bring me an ear of green maize, the
greatest delicacy they know, and another ran to me in the road to
offer me a huge and fine potato he was nursing with pride. The walnuts
were just then eatable, and one of the men brought me a quantity in
his closed hands so that I should not see what he had, and, emptying
them into my hands, ran away with all speed lest I should give him
something in return. They had been carefully cracked and removed from
the shells, as the most delicate attention he could show me.

The convent is an old-time stronghold, but, dominated on three sides
by hills which look down into its quadrangle, it would be untenable to
rifle fire. It was founded by Stefan Nemanides, son of Bolkan, Prince
of the Zeta (a term which comprised all Montenegro and the Berdas),
and eldest son of Stefan, Emperor of Servia. The Romanesque church,
which occupies the centre of the quadrangle, was built about A.D.
1250, but, having been burnt out by the Turks, it was restored in
1400, the walls being uninjured, and it has never been since damaged;
and the frescoes in the chapel, which are older than those in the
church, are dated 1420. There are some in the church painted later by
a monk from Mount Athos, but decidedly inferior to those in the little

I was hardly in shelter at the convent when the rains set in, and for
nearly two weeks I was weather-bound, for in that wild country, with
no roads but the tracks the horses wear in the ground, traveling in
the mud of rainy weather is out of the question. In a lull of actual
downpour we made an excursion to Kolashin, four hours away, passing
through the scene of the defeat of Mehemet Ali Pasha. The hegumenos,
who commanded the half battalion of the monastery, showed me the line
of the fighting, and described the battle, and certainly it was one of
the most extraordinary battles even in the history of this fighting

The Turks came from Kolashin by a road which debouches into the valley
by a steep descent of about five hundred feet, and they had crowned
the heights and planted their battery before the clans could gather,
since these had been scattered along a line of thirty or forty miles,
uncertain what point would be attacked. Voivode Vucovich, hereditary
chief of the Wassoivich, with half a battalion of his own people, was
watching and following the Turks from a distance, and, when he saw
that the movement was intended for the convent, he sent runners
to Peiovich in Drobniak and warned the convent, where was a half
battalion of local forces. The regulars formed on the ridge,
intrenched themselves, and sent the irregulars, Albanians of the tribe
of the Mirdites, down to lead the attack. As soon as these were well
entangled in the intricacies of the valley, seeing only the half
battalion of Moratsha posted in front of them, Vucovich led an attack
down the slope in their rear, getting between them and the regulars,
and the Moratshani made a sortie from the convent, which is inclosed
by a strong wall, and attacked in front. The Albanians fought
desperately for a short time, but, attacked on both sides, though by
forces much inferior in the aggregate to their own, they finally broke
in panic. A large body ran into a ravine, which proved a _cul de sac_,
for the end up which they hoped to escape was so precipitous that few
escaped the infuriated Montenegrins following them, who, when the
fight was over, counted eleven hundred dead. The rest of the Albanians
continued their flight to Kolashin, the panic involving the regulars,
who insisted on returning, and, in spite of all remonstrances of the
officers, went back.

The hegumenos, Mitrofan Banovich, whose name deserves record as well
as any I heard of in this land of heroes, introduced to me the captain
of the Moratsha battalion, who had taken part in the fight. He had
lost his son in it, and of his four hundred men twenty-five had been
killed and forty put _hors de combat_ from wounds which disabled them
from fighting. The Wassoivich had exhausted their ammunition and
the unwounded of the Moratshani were only enough to carry away the
wounded; had the Turkish regulars maintained the attack, there could
have been no further resistance, the way would have been open to take
the Montenegrins about Danilograd in the rear, and Suleiman would have
had a clear course.

The captain told me of one brave Albanian who had fallen wounded from
his horse and taken shelter in a crevice of the rocks, and who had
killed two Montenegrins and wounded a third before he was disposed of
by one of them getting behind him and shooting him through a crevice
in the sheltering rocks. The manner of his death and that of those
of his assailants illustrate the war manners of the Montenegrins so
completely that I was interested in the case more than in other heroic
details of the fight. The Montenegrin makes a question of _amour
propre_ in attacking his enemies face to face and by preference with
the cold steel. Enemies who fall in the general mêlée by rifle-shot
he never considers his "heads;" he claims only those he has killed
in hand-to-hand combat. This Albanian was the standard-bearer of his
clan, i.e. the hereditary chieftain, and to kill him in hand-to-hand
combat was the ambition of the three who attacked him in succession,
the shooting from behind being only a matter of necessity.

I remembered at that moment a correspondence I had had years before
with Virchow, on the Pelasgi, and their probable relation with the
Albanians, whom he regarded as the descendants of the Pelasgi; and,
thinking of his collection of skulls, I asked the captain if he knew
the spot where the body of the Albanian lay, and if the bones were
still there, and when he assured me that they were where he fell, I
offered him two florins to bring me the skull, which he did. It was of
a man in the prime of life, with the sutures scarcely closed, and only
two teeth lacking, and none unsound, and I sent it on to the great
craniologist, who replied with warm thanks. The skull, he said, was
the finest for intellectual development in his collection, and he read
a paper on it before the Imperial German Academy. He was so impressed
by its character that he was disposed to consider it as an exceptional
skull, and wrote to one of the Austrian officers in Montenegro to ask
him to make an effort to send some more, and these, though not,
like that of the standard-bearer, of unquestionably pure Albanian
stock,--for the aristocracy never intermarry with any other blood than
that of their class and race,--all possessed the same intellectual
characteristics, justifying him in placing the Albanian at the head of
the races of Europe for intellectual capacity.

We reconnoitred Kolashin, and found it an almost open fortress, which
was commanded by hills around, and so near that it could be made
untenable by rifle fire, which could have been poured in from both
sides of the river that ran by it, which, though then a swollen
torrent, was under ordinary conditions fordable anywhere. The Turks
seemed indisposed to provoke an exchange of shots, and did not trouble
us, though we went within easy rifle-shot inspecting the works through
my field-glass, and, before leaving, took our luncheon in full sight
of the garrison, who were working on some trenches intended for
protection from a _coup de main_ from the river. I made a sketch
of the fortress, and we withdrew tranquilly. In fact, the Turkish
garrisons, so far as my own experience went, were never disposed to
begin a fight, and if not molested they never annoyed us by firing on
us. The poor fellows only wanted to be left alone. They were, when
prisoners, the most amiable people possible, and at one time I saw
many in Cettinje, prisoners taken in the fights about Podgoritza,
enjoying the freedom of the place and making themselves useful to the
women, bringing wood and water, and as inoffensive as children. Many
of them, probably young men without domestic ties, refused to return
when the treaty of peace was signed, but, with a docility which was as
remarkable as their obedience under the atrocious treatment of their
own government, only asked for their bread and toleration. I have seen
in Cettinje, when the men were all on the frontier fighting, Turkish
prisoners enough to take possession of the place if they had been
disposed to rise and make a fight with sticks and stones. This was one
of the most touching phases of that curious war, a warfare such as the
world will hardly see again.

The day after our trip to Kolashin the rain set in again, and we
passed nearly a fortnight more at the convent before the weather broke
and I was able to set out, taking with me a gang of men to make the
roads passable for my horse, so much had the rains wrought havoc with
the face of the land. The flooded state of the country and unfordable
rivers forbade the trip to Wassoivich, and I was obliged, to my great
regret, to relinquish it and to go back to Cettinje, having lost
nearly three weeks in the rain at Moratsha. Returning by a different
route from that by which I came, I crossed the Duboko at a point much
lower down than that of my first striking it, where it makes the most
magnificent trout stream I have ever seen. The trout from it feed
the Moratsha and the Lake of Scutari. In the Duboko they are caught,
according to the statement of a native of the district, as heavy as
forty pounds; and Mr. Green, the English consul at Scutari, told me
that they were sometimes caught much larger in the lake. There were
plenty in the Zeta at Niksich and at Danilograd, and I saw one
brought to the Prince's tent one day, during the siege, which weighed
twenty-two pounds, shot by one of the men, for they refused all kinds
of bait, and were only taken by shooting or the net; or, horrible to
relate, by dynamite, the ruinous effects of which on the population of
the river the Prince was too easygoing to forbid. I have seen one of
the spring basins, from which the Zeta takes its rise, carpeted by
tiny trout and other fishes, killed by the explosions of dynamite,
which rarely killed, but only stunned, the larger fish, of which few
were retrieved even when stunned or killed. I one day remonstrated
indignantly with the Prince for this barbarous butchery, and told him
that if he permitted his men to carry it on his son would reign in a
fishless country, and he promised to forbid it; but the matter passed
from his memory in a day. The Duboko was a safe nursery for the fry,
for it was such a torrent that dynamite was useless, since it would
have been impossible to retrieve a fish if killed.

Our road lay through the district of Rovtcha, which is considered the
poorest for the agriculturist in all the Berdas. It is very hilly, and
the rock is, where we passed, a rotten slate which the rains and the
torrents cut away rapidly, carrying the alluvium down to the plains
and Lake of Scutari. Digging and bridging, we reached, early in the
afternoon, the village of Gornje-Rovtcha, and were then informed that
it would be impossible to reach another habitation that day, and that
the road passed through an immense forest infested by wolves, in which
we should be compelled to sleep if we held on. This I had no desire to
try, remembering our experience with the shepherds on the first night
out from Niksich. So we passed the hours to the dark in shooting at
a mark, and went to bed early. The house which was selected to be
honored by my repose, the best in the village, was of one room, from
which the animals were excluded, with the usual floor of beaten earth.
A huge bedstead of small fir poles, the only important piece of
furniture in it, was assigned to me, and the family--all women and
children--spread their rugs on the ground. After eating a supper
brought from the convent, and some potatoes, the only provision,
except a little coarse maize bread which the house afforded, we went
to bed. The bedstead was abundantly provided with straw, but nought
beside, and the fleas routed me from my first sleep and compelled me
to evacuate the premises. I took my mattress and went out where my
pony was picketed, and, spreading it in his lee, to break the cold
north wind fresh from the mountain, I tried to sleep.

The poor horse had supped miserably; a little barley from the convent
and some musty hay furnished by the woman of the house, but which even
in his hunger he refused to eat, left him ill-compensated for a hard
day's walk, and he turned his head to me now and then with a coaxing
whinney which was as plain a supplication for something to eat as I
could have made myself, but the only effect of which was to break my
doze as soon as begun, until I lost my patience with him, and gave him
a sound box on the ear, when he turned his head from me, and lay down
again. It made my heart ache to be unkind to him, for he was the
gentlest and most serviceable friend I had in Montenegro, but I could
get nothing to give him if I had paid a guinea the pound for it, and
he would not let me sleep. The intelligent brute felt what language
could not tell him, and ceased his complaint, though the blow I gave
him would hardly have killed a gad-fly on his hair; but it sufficed,
and gave me more discomfort than him, for I did not cease to reproach
myself for the ungrateful return for his fidelity. But I slept no
more, and watched the stars in their courses till the dawn.

A glass of milk and a crust of the bread I had brought from
the convent made my breakfast, and we pushed on to our next
stopping-place, the convent of Piperski Celia. The road lay for the
first hour through a forest of beeches and firs, the former the
finest, as timber, I ever saw--straight trunks, thirty or forty feet
to the first limb; in some places the beech being the exclusive wood,
and in others the fir, but all a luxuriant growth. Properly worked,
this forest would have made a great revenue for the principality.
Before the war it had been leased to a French company, and many trees
were lying in all stages of preparation for rafting down the Moratsha.
This was succeeded by a forest entirely of firs, also splendid trees,
and then we came into a region which was beyond all my experience or
imagination,--a wide and barren waste of rock, gray, glistening in
the now burning sun, and without a trace of vegetation that could be
recognized by the casual vision. There was no soil, and apparently
never had been any, and the silvery-gray of the lichenous limestone
blinded one with its glare in the sunlight. Midway in it we came on an
old Roman road, one of the finest pieces of antique engineering I ever
saw. In some places it was cut out of the solid rock like a dry canal,
the banks being nearly as high as our heads, and the ruts of the
chariot wheels were still there to show that the utter barrenness of
the land had existed the same from ancient time. It was probably the
great road from Dyrrachium to the upper Danube.

We reached the convent too late to get to Danilograd that night,
considering the condition of the roads, and I asked for shelter for
the night. Here, for the first time in my experience with Orthodox
convents, lodgings were refused me by the old hegumenos, and I
instantly ordered the horses to be loaded again, without attempting to
soften his surliness. A few minutes' talk with the captain who was
my escort showed him that I was a person too much in favor with the
Prince to be treated with such derision, and he came to offer me a
place to spread my mattress on a balcony exposed to the south wind and
the rain; then, having begun to relent, he went further, and offered
me a room, which I refused, and finally his own bed; but even that did
not break my inflexible resentment. When he became pathetic in his
repentance, however, I accepted a balcony whence I could look down on
the fortress of Spuz, within easy range of its sleeping batteries; and
then he offered me a supper, which I accepted, and we made peace. In
the morning he had become humanized, and he gave me breakfast and
showed me the body of St. Stephen, which is kept here in great
reverence (not the proto-martyr, but a Montenegrin of the same name).
The saint lay in state in a magnificent coffin, as if embalmed, and in
his hand was an old and time-yellowed embroidered handkerchief which
looked as if it might have been there a century or two. Remembering a
dear friend in the Orthodox church to whom the relics of its saints
were precious, I asked the hegumenos to sell me this handkerchief. He
replied that he dared not take it, but if I had the courage to do so
he would not prevent me, so I took the relic and put a twenty franc
piece in the treasury of the convent, and went my way.

I found the Prince in his villa at Orealuk, contemplating new
movements in a distant future, and, there being evidently nothing to
keep me there, I decided to go back to Cettinje and await what was
evidently the operation in view,--the movement on Antivari. My
poor little pony like myself, only half fed for days, was not in a
condition for rapid travel, and, though we pushed on in the rain,
which began again, as well as we could, when we reached Rieka it was
nearly sunset. Finding no preparation in the little house, our usual
shelter there, for any guest, after giving the horse what small ration
the village afforded, I resumed the journey at sunset. The horse had
come the last few miles very heavily; I had been in the saddle twelve
to fourteen hours each of the last two days, and the food I could get
for him was insufficient even for a Herzegovinian mountain pony, so
that it was hard work to get him to a pace above a slow walk as we
approached Rieka; but when we left the place he seemed to realize that
he had a work of necessity before him, and that the light would not
see him through it, and he showed that he understood the case, for he
needed neither spur nor whip to make his best pace over the very rough
and difficult road. In spite of his best efforts, the darkness fell on
us half way to Cettinje, with rain and a fog which made it impossible
to see the way before me, or even to see the horse's ears.

There was on that road, on the mountain which frames on that side
the plain of Cettinje, a passage of the bridle-path which even the
Montenegrins, used to it, passed always on foot; a sharp ridge, almost
an _arête_ of rock, which carries a path hardly wide enough for two
horses to pass each other on it, and on each side of which the rock
falls away in a steep precipice high enough to leave no hope of
survival from a fall down it. If I had dismounted I could not have
seen the path before me; to stop and pass the night there, drenched
and cold as I was, would have been fatal, for we were in the early
cold of autumn in a high country; there was nothing for it but to
trust to the horse, and I threw the bridle on his neck and left him
to himself. A false step was certain death for us both, but I had no
choice. He picked his way as if he were walking amongst eggs, slowly
but surely, and we descended into the plain of Cettinje at 10 P.M.
without a slip or an attempt on my part to interfere with the
discretion of my pony. If I had possessed even an acre of pasture or
a settled home where I could have turned out that good beast for the
rest of his days, I should never have allowed him to go to another
owner, for I knew that I owed him my life.

Of the following campaign, which resulted in the taking of Antivari
and Dulcigno, I saw nothing. The jealousy of Jonine had been so
excited by my always forestalling him with the news of the war, that
he persuaded the Prince not to advise me of the movement; so, while I
was waiting at Cettinje for the promised summons to join the staff,
the army moved across the country to Rieka secretly, and the first
warning we had of the movement was the firing of guns at Antivari. As
the Prince gave me no further thought, I waited comfortably, "at mine
ease in mine inn," for diplomacy to tie the ends of the well-spun out
controversy. Fighting was practically over and my campaign ended.



The end of the official war and the hopelessness of seeking to
reestablish myself in a literary career in London, as well as the
desire of my wife to try a residence in a climate and surroundings
more attractive than those of the Isle of Wight--the fact, too, of
being without local ties--led to the determination to find a residence
for a time abroad, and the family came to meet me at Turin, _en route_
for Corfu, where we decided to pass the winter. If I had hoped to
escape political agitation there, I was mistaken. The Greeks had hung
fire in joining in the Balkan movement, hoping that the powers would
include them in the arrangements for a final settlement of the Eastern
question. When, in the negotiations which accompanied the conclusion
of peace, Greece found that she was ignored, the inflammable public
opinion broke out in a violent demonstration against the treaty of
peace. When the Russian government had decided to declare war, it
proposed to Greece that if a Greek army were sent across the frontiers
for even a fruitless attack on Turkey when that of Russia entered
on the other side, Greece should participate in the benefits of the
settlement. Greece did nothing, and the offer was renewed at a later
period, when the war was evidently tending to the complete triumph
of Russia, but still there was no action at Athens, and Greece was
consequently ignored by Russia when the treaty was negotiated.

Desperate at this delusion of all their hopes, the Greeks demanded
that the invasion of Epirus and Thessaly should be at once undertaken,
the semblance of an army corps was formed for the latter destination,
and the insurrectionary committees organized (if the word can be
applied to the huddling together of a mass of volunteers without
organization) the invasion of Epirus from the coast. A few hundred men
of many nations, amongst whom were a number of gallant Italians, full
of Hellenic enthusiasm, were landed at Aghia Saranda, a port opposite
Corfu and in sight of the city, a scant allowance of food and
ammunition was thrown on shore with them, and the steamer which
brought them steamed away, leaving them to their fate, which was to be
butchered under the eyes of the spectators at Corfu, looking on
with horror. Only a few of the hapless volunteers escaped under the
guidance of one of the Greeks, who knew the country and guided a party
through the mountains to the Gulf of Corinth, the rest being killed
almost without resistance, no provision for their escape by sea having
been thought of. At the other extremity of the frontier the same
tactics were successful in raising a brief insurrection about
Volo, which collapsed after a few days' fighting, during which a
correspondent of the "Times," Mr. Ogle, was killed by the Turkish
troops. The Greek ministry, in the dilemma of acting or being left out
of the settlement, decided that the army to cross the frontier should
be commanded by the King in person, but the King so earnestly declined
the honor put upon him that the plan was abandoned. One of the
ministers assured me that the King with tears in his eyes begged to be
excused from going. He had never been popular in the country, and this
failure to realize a step in the Panhellenic policy made him for
the time the object of all the popular indignation. But he probably
realized that nothing was ready for such a movement and that it was
certain to end in disaster.

The real cause of failure was in the general indifference to all
preparation, in which the government was supported by the nation. The
overweening confidence in themselves, which was so great as to permit
them to believe that without any organization or discipline they were
more than a match for the Turkish army, has always been their fatal
weakness. One of the leaders of the war party said to me a little
later, "The Greeks are so clever that they do not need to be trained;
they can fight without it well enough to beat the Turks." We saw at
Corfu how ill-prepared they were, for the classes were called out to
go to the frontier of Epirus, and those of Corfu marched through the
streets to the place of embarkation weeping as if they went to
death. This delusion as to their natural military capacity was never
dispelled until the later disaster in Thessaly. The army did in fact
cross the frontier, but within forty-eight hours they were obliged to
return to Greek territory for want of provisions--the commissariat had
been forgotten!

Outside of political agitation we found living in Corfu delightful,
and I question if there is, within the limits of the north temperate
zone, any more delightful winter residence than was that of Corfu in
the period we were there. What remained of the advanced civilization
of the English garrison period gave the island a distinct advantage
over all the other Greek isles, and even over Crete with its superior
natural advantages. Greek enterprise and civilization are so far
superior to that found anywhere in the Turkish territory that they
are capable of maintaining the substantial progress which the English
occupation achieved in Corfu; and, though we found the peasantry not
largely inoculated by the fever of progress, the better classes of the
city population succeed in supporting the better condition attained
to. But the obstinacy of the conservatism retained by the agricultural
classes is equal to that in the least frequented islands of the
Aegean. A relative, on whose estate we passed a part of the winter,
remote from the city of Corfu, had tried to introduce improvements
in the culture of his olives; but the laborers not only refused to
coöperate with him, but opposed the introduction of laborers who would
lend themselves to his operations. As the olives had been gathered in
the days of Nausicaa they should be gathered still, and so should the
oil be made, and he was obliged to yield. But as we from the west
suffer not a little from over-civilization and artifice, it is
grateful to repose the eyes and the aesthetic sense in a land
where there still remains something of the antique simplicity and
picturesque uncouthness, and the winter in Scheria remains one of the
grateful memories of a wandering life.

Leaving Corfu with freedom from any local obligations, and a keen
enjoyment of the change from life in England, we decided to establish
ourselves for a time in Florence, where we passed the whole of the
summer. In October a son was born to us, and we took a house and
furnished it. I took a studio, too, and returned to painting, as well
as the long interval permitted me to gather up the threads of habit.
Art is not to be followed in that way, and there is no cause for
surprise, nor, perhaps, for regret, that literature had the stronger
hold on my mind; and that, between the "Times," letters for which were
provoked by so many themes of interest to the English public, and
archaeology, especially the study of the prehistoric monuments of
central Italy, so important in their yet hardly determined relations
to the classical world, the pencil found less attraction than the pen.
To my wife, whose enjoyment of Italian art was intense, Florence
was an ideal residence; and on some accounts I still regret the
circumstances which drove us out of the lily city,--to me still the
most desirable residence I have ever known, when one is able to adapt
one's self to the life there. After the first summer we found the
Italian Alps one of the most delectable of retreats, Cadore and
Auronzo, with Cortina and Landro,--all places full of picturesque and
natural fascination. And now, as the strength wanes and we live more
in memory than in act, the recollection of the summers passed in the
land of Titian remains a gallery of the most delightful pictures.

At Cortina I met and first knew Browning, who, with his sister
Sariana, our old and dear friend, came to stay at the inn where we
were. I am not much inclined to reckon intellectual greatness as a
personal charm, for experience has shown me that the relation is very
remote; but Browning always impressed me--and then and after I saw a
good deal of him--as one of the healthiest and most robust minds I


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